10th DUI gets Lynnwood man a 7-year sentence

EVERETT — Prosecutors said his criminal record is mind-boggling.

Todd Olson has racked up 10 drunken-driving convictions, three convictions for hit-and-run, and he’s been convicted 14 times for driving with a suspended license.

On Wednesday, a Snohomish County judge added another number to the Lynnwood man’s life: seven.

Olson, 47, was sentenced to seven years in prison for felony drunken driving, hit-and-run and first-degree driving with a suspended license stemming from a crash in May.

Prosecutors charged him with the felony DUI and two misdemeanors after he hit a car stopped at a traffic light on Highway 99 and drove off. Police found him at home. He was staggering drunk, officers reported. Olson refused to take a Breathalyzer test.

At the time, his driver’s license was suspended and he’d been convicted of nine DUIs, including six in the last decade.

“That is mind-boggling,” Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Ed Stemler wrote in a sentencing memorandum.

“I didn’t see any point in investing anymore in probation costs. He’s been through treatment. I felt we needed to protect the community as long as possible,” Stemler said.

Olson remained silent during Wednesday’s hearing.

In a letter to Superior Court Judge Bruce Weiss, he asked for leniency.

He is innocent of the charges, Olson wrote. He also detailed his long battle with alcohol, which began by drinking beer with an older relative as a boy.

He’s undergone numerous treatment programs for alcohol abuse, according to his letter. Olson also wrote about being an embarrassment to his two children. They’ll graduate from high school while he’s in prison, he wrote.

Weiss gave him the maximum prison term under the law.

Weiss said it was clear to him that Olson wasn’t going to stop driving drunk and putting his life and the lives of others at risk. He said Olson’s letter rang hollow.

If Olson knew he had an alcohol problem, why didn’t he stay at home and drink? Why, Weiss asked, did he continually risk hurting or killing other people?

The judge wished Olson good luck in beating his alcohol addiction.

Olson was the first person in the Snohomish County to be convicted by a jury under the new felony DUI law.

Drunken driving typically is a gross misdemeanor subject to a fine and no more than a year in jail. Under the law that went into effect July 2007, a fifth DUI citation within 10 years can be charged as a felony.

Reporter Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463 or hefley@heraldnet.com.

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